A TA soldier has warned others against taking direct action against yobs and drunken louts after he ended up in the dock.

Christopher Richard Egas-Kitchener, 23, a history student, fired air pistol pellets that hit a 17-year-old youth's chin, thigh and hand in the street, York Crown Court heard.

He told a jury the youth was among a group of five young men who had invaded his student house in Harcourt Street, York, and attacked his housemate at midnight.

After they left, he had gone looking for them so he could take pictures of them on his mobile phone to help police.

He had a loaded air pistol tucked in his belt.

His actions led police to charge him with possessing a firearm with intent to make another fear unlawful violence and wounding.

Conviction would have ended hopes of joining the Yorkshire Regiment as an officer.

He denied both charges on the grounds he had acted in self-defence and the jury acquitted him after half-an-hour in retirement. He told them the drunken group had charged him in the street when he found them and he had feared they were about to give him the "beating of a lifetime".

Outside court, he spoke of his delight at the verdict.

"I am pleased I could rely on English historical traditions.

"Juries have been in this country for a long time," he said.

"In the end, I was tried among my equals."

Speaking out against yobbery and drunken violence, he said the verdict "shows that in the end the public don't have to fear it, because the law is there to protect us."

But he warned others about taking action when they see trouble.

"There is so much risk. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Just call the police," he said.

He told police to keep the air pistol as he never wanted to see it again.

He told the jury he took it from his wardrobe to protect himself when he saw the fight in his house's hallway.

And though he was aware he had it in his trouser belt, he wasn't thinking about it when he left the house. He said he never intended to harm anyone.